BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Acoustic Classics (Louvaio Lou006)

Acoustic ClassicsFolking.com has already announced the imminent release of Acoustic Classics by Benjamin Folke Thomas – http://folking.com/benjamin-folke-thomas-returns-with-live-album/ – with the back story to the singer’s life and an explanation that this is a ‘live’ album with a difference: it has been recorded in Folke Thomas’ living room with himself as the ‘audience’.

I have a list on the Notes App on my phone of artists I want to see/music that I want to buy and Benjamin Folke Thomas has been on the list for a while now (a Bob Harris session a couple of years ago, I think) and the album doesn’t disappoint. The feel is very definitely a house concert, mixed with (his own) whoops, cheers, laughs, shushes and applause. There are songs from his previous albums, introductions from his life and two jokes which I think are magnificent, though my family are less convinced…….

The album starts slowly with ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Good Friend Again’ and then begins to kick into a higher gear with ‘Love Somebody’ and ‘Finn’. It stays there until finishing with the singalong of ‘Sex Addict’. As I listened, it dawned on me that every good house concert I’ve been to does just that – the steady start as you’re sitting in a space not designed for a concert, growing to the point where it clicks into place for both artist and audience. Acoustic Classics captures it perfectly.

The songs are captivating, particularly the three in the centre of the album. ‘Finn’ moves seamlessly from the tale of Abbas, the doctor from Palestine working on a meat counter missing his family, on to Finn, the singer’s communist grandfather fighting the Nazis who became a refugee, and finally to the singer’s sister who is living, by choice, in India. Three tales of movement linked by a unfulfilled desire to be with family and the closing refrain “Time flies by so fast/spend it with the people you love”. ‘Married’ is an old story of not winning the girl because of her religion – “Sin couldn’t touch the ground she walked” – but becomes a modern one because of Folke Thomas’ ability to use Facebook to see what has happened to her. It is also a reflection of how she stills touches on his happiness. ‘Copenhagen 30/6’ is a similarly reflective tale of love with a melodic chorus and contrasting lyrics “Like a chain tied around the neck/through the meltdowns you’re a rock I’m a wreck…how can someone like you love somebody like me

The album artwork is an homage to Folke Thomas’ country heroes and the album also captures elements of country music while never quite going there. The vocal on ‘I’m Alive’ edges towards Johnny Cash; in ‘Sex Addict’ Folke Thomas inhabits the negative personality that the girl and – a wonderful touch – her father now use to describe him; despite its romantic title, ‘Woman I Love’ is another self-knowing leaving song “I’ve been labeled a criminal, labeled a crook/ By the Woman I Love”.

Two years down the line from making the note that I should find out more about Benjamin Folke Thomas I’ve been lucky enough to get this album to review. It’s probably not an album for the car, the finger picking is great and the lyrics are Loudon-Wainwright-subtle, but the road noise is louder. However, listen properly to the album, as you would in a house concert, and you’ll be rewarded with a great introduction to a skilled artist..

The website below has a link to gigs in summer and autumn, beginning with Cropredy on August 11th. My surprise is that he’s playing at the Brasenose Arms, not on the main stage.

Mike Wistow

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Acoustic Classics link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artist’s website: https://www.benfolkethomas.com

‘Sex Addict’ – live:

Benjamin Folke Thomas returns with live album

Benjamin Folke Thomas

Following the success of his 4th album Copenhagen earlier this year, Scandinavian born Benjamin Folke Thomas is back with a new album for his fans, a live album featuring all the hits from his extensive back catalogue.

“I wanted to make an honest record, something that reflects my solo live shows in a realistic way, so I decided to record a live album in my living room. I wanted to have the friendliest audience I could think of and my biggest fan is probably myself, no matter what others may think. So I was my own audience. I recorded each handclap, each chuckling laugh, and every excited call for more. It’s all me. Me me me…”

And, if you are wondering about the artwork…

“The idea was to rip of my favorite country heroes; Buck Owens, John Denver, Kenny Rogers and Jim Reeves. I think I’ve really pulled it off!” explains Ben.

Folke Thomas was born in the coldest winter recorded in modern day history in Gothenburg; perhaps his obsession for sad, lamenting country songs was inevitable; and grew up on a secluded island off the coast of Sweden, populated by mainly evangelical Christians. However, Ben never found God. He discovered grunge music instead, and at the age of 11 he was playing drums in a punk band before turning to folk and Americana music after seeing Kurt Cobain’s performance of ‘In The Pines’ on Unplugged.

Folke Thomas’ live ability has attracted a dedicated fanbase and rave reviews, including Q Magazine describing his “stunning playing… his finger-picking is the best you will ever hear”, whilst the Guardian stated that he “stands out like Oliver Reed at an AA meeting”.

Artist’s website:  www.benfolkethomas.com

‘Sex Addict’ – live:

RICHARD THOMPSON – Acoustic Classics (Beeswing BSW14)

richard_acousticcover__110133Whenever I hear Richard Thompson in solo concert I miss those long guitar solos. Of course, whenever I hear him with a band I miss the more intimate moments. Rarely does he mix the styles and the Electric tour was something of an exception. Even less often does he record a live acoustic show – the last was Small Town Romance and that was thirty years ago.

One can understand his point of view. Alone on stage there really is nowhere to hide, no glaring at the drummer when you play a wrong note and what may pass in the excitement of a gig may not bear constant repetition on a CD player. Of course, Acoustic Classics isn’t a live album. Richard has re-recorded fourteen songs with voice and acoustic guitar; some are obvious fan favourites and some are clearly his own choice.

His acoustic guitar playing is as complex and dynamic as his electric and there isn’t any space wasted in what are sometimes revamped arrangements. The inclusion of a Scottish melody in ‘Down Where The Drunkards Roll’ gives a different feel from the urban darkness of the original. He’s even made some small changes to ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’, just enough to unsettle the listener who knows the song well and who therefore pays renewed attention. Three songs are taken from Shoot Out The Lights, an album that cries out for an acoustic reinterpretation but the less obvious ones are arguably the more interesting choices: ‘I Misunderstood’, ‘Valerie’, ‘When The Spell Is Broken’, ‘One Door Opens’. They all work but Richard hasn’t done anything radical apart from playing an impossible number of notes on one guitar, of course. Continue reading RICHARD THOMPSON – Acoustic Classics (Beeswing BSW14)

RICHARD THOMPSON – album and tour

ACOUSTIC CLASSICS
Newly recorded acoustic versions of his landmark songs
Beeswing/Proper, released July 14

richard_acousticcover__110133

Acoustic Classics is a collection of newly recorded, timeless Richard Thompson songs, featuring 14 tracks culled from his 40 plus years in music. The new album contains reimagined and refined versions of some of his best work as a songwriter including ‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’, ‘Dimming of the Day’, ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ and ‘Beeswing’.

“I really wanted to have something that would reflect the acoustic shows,” Richard explains,  “But we didn’t have anything like that.  Just some old, slightly scratchy recordings of solo sets that I wasn’t really happy with.”  His last proper solo acoustic release was the live Small Town Romance, and that was more than 30 years ago! In the meantime, the acoustic shows have evolved as a full parallel to his band tours. Continue reading RICHARD THOMPSON – album and tour